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Hawthorn



    Scientific Names

    Hawthorn Berry
    • Crataegus oxyacantha L.
    • Rosaceae
    • Rose family

    Common Names

    ivyEnglish hawthorn
    ivyHaw (Black Haw is Viburnum pruifolium L.)
    ivyMay
    ivyMay blossom
    ivyMay bush
    ivyMay tree
    ivyQuick-set
    ivyShan-cha (Chinese name)
    ivyThorn-apple tree
    ivyWhitethorn
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    Parts Usually Used

    Berries, leaves and flowers
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Hawthorn, a compact, deciduous tree, grows as either a shrub or a tree, to 15 feet; its trunk or stems have hard wood, smooth and ash-gray bark, and thorny branches. The small, shiny leaves are dark green on top, light bluish-green underneath, and have 3 irregularly toothed lobes. The frail white flowers, known as "may", have 5 round petals and grow in terminal corymbs, spreading clusters, during May and June. In some varieties the blossoms may be pink or deep red. The fruit, or haw, is 2-3 seeded, egg-shaped, freshly pome, scarlet on the outside, yellowish and pulpy on the inside. The berries or fruit hang in small bunches from the thorny shrub, each berry has 1-5 seeds. Berries remain on the tree after the leaves fall off in autumn. Beware of the sharp thorns when harvesting hawthorn, eye scratches from thorns can cause blindness.
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    Where Found

    England and continental Europe; in England it is widely grown as a hedge plant. Found by the roadside or in the meadows, along streams, in bottomlands and open woods from Nova Scotia to North Dakota and south to Alabama and Texas. Native to Asia, Africa and Europe. Naturalized to the United States.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Astringent, antispasmodic, cardiac tonic, carminative, diuretic, sedative, stimulant, vasodilator.
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    Biochemical Information

    Anthocyanin-type pigments, choline, citric acid, cratagolic acid, rich in bioflavonoids, flavonoid glycosides, tannins, glavone, glycosides, inositol, PABA, purines, saponins, sugar, tartaric acid, minerals and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and C.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    In ancient Greece and Rome, the hawthorn had happy associations, being linked with sweet hope, marriage, and babies. Dedicated to Hymen, the god of marriage, the hawthorn was used as a symbol of hope at weddings in Greece; bridal attendants wore its blossoms while the bride carried an entire bough. Also, in both Greece and Rome, torches carried in wedding processions were made of hawthorn. The Romans put hawthorn leaves in the cradles of newborn babies to ward off evil spirits.

    In medieval Europe, hawthorn had an entirely different image. Generally regarded as an unlucky plant, it was thought that bringing its branches inside would portend the death of one of the household's members. Hawthorn was also one of the witch's favorite plants and was especially to be avoided on Walpugis Night, when witches turned themselves into hawthorns. With a little superstitious imagination, the hawthorn's writhing, thorny branches at night probably do look enough like a witch to have instilled fear in medieval folk.

    The Chinese sell a jam of hawthorn in shops under the name Shan-cha-kao or Shan-cha-ping.

    Hawthorn is the plant for which the ship Mayflower was named.
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    Uses

    Hawthorn normalizes blood pressure by regulating heart action; extended use will usually lower blood pressure. It is good for heart muscle weakened by age, for inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), for softening the arteries in arteriosclerosis, helps strengthen blood vessels, cures giddiness, reduces palpitations, angina pectoris, weak heart, vascular insufficiency, blood clots (embolism, phlebitis), and for nervous heart problems. People under stress and strain from pressures of the job can benefit from hawthorn tea, aids in digestion. The tea is also a good remedy for other nervous conditions, particularly insomnia. Dilates coronary vessels, to restore the heart muscle wall, and to lower cholesterol levels. Used to treat skin sores. Relieves abdominal distention and diarrhea, food stagnation, abdominal tumors, and is good for dropsy, drives out splinters and thorns.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Infusion: steep 1 tsp. flowers in 1/2 cup water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a mouthful at a time. Sweeten with honey if desired.
    Decoction: use 1 tsp. crushed fruit with 1/2 cup cold water. Let stand for 7-8 hours, then bring quickly to a boil and strain. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a mouthful at a time, sweetened with honey if desired.

    Also, use 1/2 oz. hawthorn berries simmered in 1 pint of water for 20 minutes, along with 1 tsp. of cinnamon and taken 3 times a day after meals, sweetened with honey as a heart tonic.
    Tincture: use concentrated preparations under medical direction.
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    Nutrient Content

    Sugar, minerals and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and C.
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    How Sold

    Capsules, tea Take 1 capsule, up to 3 times a day.
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    Warning

    Though non-toxic, hawthorn can produce dizziness if taken in large doses.

    Hawthorn contains heart-affecting compounds that may affect blood pressure and heart rate. Most hawthorn preparations are safe, but it is available in a highly concentrated form that should be used only under medical supervision. Hawthorn berries are considered best for blood pressure regulation and heart/vascular conditions.

    Avoid if colitis or ulcers are present.

    Used for centuries, no side effects have ever been noted.
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    Resource Links

    LiveStrong.com: Hawthorn Berry & Blood Pressure

    Oreagon State University: Hawthorn Berry Fact Sheet

    University of Maryland Medical Center: Hawthorn

    WholeHealthMD Reference Library: Hawthorn

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    Bibliography

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

    Buy It! Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

    Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

    Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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